Well, I’ve got some bad news for those of you who enjoy dining on a little crab or lobster, possibly under the presumption that our little crustacean friends don’t feel pain …when being boiled alive.
Scientists are going on the record in the journal of Animal Behaviour with their discovery that lobsters and crabs not only suffer pain, but remember it too.
Whether or not crustaceans feel pain has been debated for a long time, while many like to argue that since their nervous system is different from ours, they’re not capable of feeling pain or stress.
However, this research has shown that when hermit crabs are exposed to painful stimulus, i.e. an electric shock, they experience pain, in addition to learning behaviors to avoid painful situations in the future, like ditching their shells in search of new homes.
Since tearing off legs and boiling lobsters and crabs alive are common practices, scientists are now calling for a reevaluation of their treatment and protection.
Robert Elwood, the head researcher for the study said, “There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans.”
A second study that will be appearing in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science also provides evidence that these animals suffer. This study also found that crustaceans react to pain, make decisions to avoid it, and they react positively to pain killers.
For more information about the lives of these mysterious sea creatures, check out Fishing Hurts.